Podcasts have become a massive part of my life in the past few years. It’s a unique and great medium, and when some of your favourite people are involved, it becomes utterly joyous. They’re often conversational and relaxed. Podcasting is a raw art form that is yet to be tainted by money. They are nearly always free and done out of love.
Last year Stephen Fry made an appearance on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. It got quite a lot of press because in the show Stephen admited to a suicide attempt earlier in the year. But newspaper headlines aside, it’s a masterpiece of a podcast episode. The host Richard Herring was a little bit annoying at times. It may be a comedy podcast, but I felt he kept looking for jokes a little bit too much, when he should of been satisfied with the perfect balance of comedy and honesty that Stephen turned the conversation into.
Anyway, it was a sublime way to spend 90 minutes before sleep, and after listening to it I sat on the edge of my bed for a few minutes thinking. It made me happy, saddened me, and inspired me. It did what all great art should. It took me into its cave and spat me out different and better. Not drastically so. It just added another stick to my mental Beaver dam against everything bad in my world. I hadn’t had a bad or good day, I had experienced what most days are. Boring, dull, tiring, and sprinkled with brief moments of embarrassment, confidence, happiness and sadness. And having in those 24 hours just a glimpse of great art makes it worthwhile, and worth slugging through another 24 to hopefully taste again.
Afterwards Richard Herring wrote:
For a few years now I’ve been side-stepping the censorship, limitations and, let’s face it, lack of interest of television broadcasters and producing my own comedy podcasts. I love the freedom and autonomy of the medium, as well as its immediacy.
I can have an idea in the morning and it can be broadcast that same day. With all the hoops you have to jump through to make a TV show, it can take years to get an idea to screen and, by the time it’s on, it has often been interfered with so much by executives that it is unrecognisable. […]
I was delighted that one of my all-time comedy heroes, Stephen Fry, agreed to appear, but I was nervous. I had never met him before and was concerned I might just sit opposite him in open-mouthed amazement, unable to say a word. […]
It was the most extraordinary and electric 90 minutes that I have ever experienced on stage, showed that independent podcasts can compete with and trump mainstream broadcasters and spread awareness about the effects of depression.
Stephen Fry also later blogged:
The episode, plus the relationship I now have with a magnificent psychiatrist, has made made my mental health better, I think, than it’s ever been.
Podcasts, how I love you.